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 Professor Paula Drosescu MD PhD
Societatea Romana de Medicina Sportiva

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A study regarding the improvement of the amplitude of the movements of the spine in sportspeople

The mobility of the joints of the spine represents, undoubtedly, one of the factors of maintaining an good health condition, but also the premise of achieving performance in sports. The somatomethric and somatoscopic analysis of a sportsman beads to the observation and explanation of certain situations, where there is no concordance between the physical aspect – the effort made during training – the expectations of the sportsman – and the obtained results.
This analysis was the basis of the present study, in which during 3 months from a semester 2 simple and easy to use methods were applied weekly on 65 students of the Faculty of Physical Education and Sports: therapy through movement and relaxation. The results were both immediate and on the long term, being also related to each subject’s motivation.
Keywords: the mobility of the joints of the spine, therapy through movement, relaxation

  The mobility of the spinal joints represents, undoubtedly, one of the factors that help maintaining an optimal level of health, and also the premise for obtaining performance in sports. Most frequently, the way in which a person walks, the position one adopts while standing or sitting are not the ideal ones from the point of view of the biomechanics of the spine. Consequently, two situations occur: one that is related to medical pathology, and the second connected with the possibilities of movement at the level of the spinal joints.
  Frederick Matthias Alexander once said: “A perfect spine is an important factor in maintaining those conditions and ways of using the human machinery that co - operate to maintain a perfect health, but, even so, there are only few people that do not suffer, one way or another, maybe even unconsciously, from the curving of the spine.”
  The spine acts as a pillar that supports the superior sections of the body, as well as being a means of protection for the marrow and for the spinal nerves. The biped position, although it has its advantages, also generates problems, the main of which being that there is a highly unstable structure that we use to counterbalance the gravity, due to the fact that we have only two (not four) inferior limbs to support us.
  One of the most significant characteristics of the spine is that it presents a series of curves that strengthen its structure, so that it may support relatively heavy weights, these being also a spring to minimize any disturbing factors that act plantar.
Depending on the type of position one adopts (ortostatism, clinostatism, sitting), on the type of activity taking place or on the age of the subject, the curves of the spine are modified. Each of us is accustomed to sitting on the chair in a certain manner, to sitting at the desk in a particular way, to walk in their own style, all these motions having the spine for main support. Only that the movements we repeat often enough  become patterns of movement, that are not necessarily correct,  and with time they transform into attitudes and eventually become positions. In this last phase, the biomechanics of spine is unquestionably interfered with, which leads to (according to each particular case) a drop in sportive or physical performances, and sometimes to the settling in of the pathology specific to the area in discussion.
  When approaching the problem of the spine, one should not stop only at the physical aspects, but also take into consideration the emotional and mental components. Our usual way of being, that we are encouraged to follow from a very tender age, affects our well- being (both physical and mental). In turn, this will affect the later performances, favoring the occurrence of the lack of confidence, frustration, a general state of unhappiness, anger.
Being given the importance of the problem, we have conducted a study among the students of the Faculty of Physical Education and Sports from the “Al. I. Cuza” University of Iasi, on a batch of 65 students, that have attended an optional practical course weekly, for a period of 3 months, entitled “Therapy through movement”.
  The idea of the course and the choice of the title were meant to suggest that during the course we will use the methods and instruments specific for Kinetology (Kinesiology). (We wish to specify that there is a clear distinction between the concepts we use: the Kinetotherapy is involved in correcting the scanty mechanisms of movement, whereas the Therapy through movement, as a specific work method of the Kinetology, looks at the illness from the perspective of prophylaxis, associated with the shaping of the psycho – motor behavior).

  The experiment involved the following succession of activities:
  • Analyzing the position of one’s own body and the way in which each person walks;
  • Each subject was then asked to analyze their own condition and the sensations they feel in their body and to memorize them;
  • Explaining the physiological position one should adopt: the explanation consisted in realigning the segments of the body in accordance with the biomechanical axis of movement;
  • Practicing and correcting individual positions;
  • Maintaining the newly – obtained positions;
  • Repeating the exercises previously learned;
  • Reanalyzing the sensations in one’s own body, the way each person feels and walks, trying to reenter the old attitudes and positions;
  • The relaxation of the segments for 5 – 7 minutes, associated with music.
  In this experiment, the most important stage is the one in which the segments are repositioned and realigned, starting from the joints of the ankles upwards, towards those of the knees, coxo – femoral, and then those of the vertebrae from the lumbar, toracal and ending with the superior limbs. The element of innovation in this experiment is represented by the place from where the repositioning starts (from down upwards), as compared to the classical method (from the level of the shoulders towards the inferior limbs).
  The experiment was accompanied all throughout by music.
In analyzing the results we have used (both before the relaxation session, as well as after it):
  Subjective parameters, quantified by: no modification, better, good, very good (in relation with the way in which they felt, they perceived their body, the relaxation);

  Measurements of the amplitude of the spine.
  The results we have obtained:

Before the relaxation session:
Nr. of subjectsNo modificationbettergoodVery good
655 (8%)7 (11%)9 (14%)44 (67%)
After the relaxation session:
Nr. of subjectsNo modificationbettergoodVery good
65-3 (5%)4 (6%)58 (89%)

The values of the amplitude gained through this type of exercises (right away):
Nr. of subjectsNo measurable modification Better mobility without amplitudeBetween 1.5 and 3 cmBetween 3 and 5 cmOver 5 cm
65-3 (4.61%)4 (6.1%)51 (78.46%)
Values of the amplitude gained through this type of exercises (after two months):
Nr. of subjectsNo measurable modification Better mobility without amplitudeBetween 1.5 and 3 cmBetween 3 and 5 cmOver 5 cm
653 (4.61%)4 (6.1%)7(10.76%)46 (70.76%)5 (7.6%) 

From the data presented one can notice the very good effect that this method of approaching the suggested topic has. However, the disadvantage of this experiment is that whoever applies it as a method of work must also have knowledge from the field of psychology (of techniques of neuro–linguistic programming), in order to be able to shape the emotional and mental components of the participants throughout the practice.

From the data we have obtained in this study we can draw several conclusions:
1.it is compulsory to give special attention to the position of the spine in the case of sportspeople as well;
2.the set of movements we have applied is very easy, with a small time span and can be used very easily, without requiring any special arrangements, other than a regular gym room;
3.the association with the relaxation of the segments is at will.
Professor Paula Drosescu, MD. PhD
Faculty of Physical Education and Sports
“Al. I. Cuza” University Iasi
December 2, 2009
Medical Cabinet Alternative Iasi
Associate Certified Coach ICF

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